Review Summary: My Darkest Days sold their souls to pierce the mainstream, with mediocre results.
Before the release of their self titled debut album, My Darkest Days were hardly known within their own home Province of Ontario; let alone the rest of the world. However, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger did hear them and liked what he heard. He immediately signed them to his very own 604 records, home of such acts as Theory of A Deadman and Thornley. The problem begins here as My Darkest Days struggles throughout the album to find their identity and just end up sounding like one of the many Post Grunge bands, such as Theory of a Deadman and Nickelback, dominating rock radio.
I'll get this out of the way for the sake of objectivity. I was a fan of My Darkest Days well before the release of their debut album when they were still posting demos to their independent myspace, I don't know if this flavors my review either way, as I've tried to look at the album objectively but its worth pointing out.
The first track Move Your Body
encapsulates the issues of the album quite well. There is a good idea buried in the song, the chorus riff is goddamn catchy and theres technically nothing wrong
with the song but it just reeks of mediocrity. The lyrics drag the song down, as tends to be the case when lyricist/singer Matt Walst tries to channel his inner Chad Kroeger and the song just doesnt lead anywhere. Walst is at his best lyrically when he is wallowing in angst and self pity, when he tries to act like a womanizing cliché rock star it just comes across as fake. This isn’t the only case of Walst trying to sound like Kroeger unfortunately, as Kroeger has co-writing credit on almost every song on the album.
The second track Porn Star Dancing
is the lead single and is My Darkest Days best attempt at capturing the mood of a care free party rock track. But it is also here that you can see the corporate machine turning its hardest. There is no doubt that this song has hooks to last for days, and its currently tearing up the Canadian charts. Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde lends his guitar chops to the song handling lead guitar duties and laying down a great solo. But why would Zakk give a damn about My Darkest Days" He isn't mentioned in the thank you's of the album, and doesn't seem to have any connection to the band, the same goes for the bonus version of the song featuring Ludacris. It all just seems like a calculated by the numbers attempt to generate a number one single. That feeling comes across for much of the album, it all feels very sterile.
This is not to say that the album is a waste of time entirely, My Darkest Days are indeed talented song writers when they stay honest to themselves. Tracks like Every Lie
and Can’t Forget You
just work better than the party rock tracks on the album. The boys in MDD seem to thrive in the Linkin Park pity party. Every Lie (which interestingly enough has a co writing credit from Three Days Grace drummer Neil Sanderson) focuses on the infidelity of a loved one, while Can’t Forget You is about being haunted by the memory of someone months after they are gone. The one knuckleball on the album is a cover of “Come Undone”
by Duran Duran. The song features country/pop Jessie James and Walst uses falsetto in certain places quite well. The lyrics of the song match the mood that MDD seem most comfortable in and the song seethes for its 4:09 duration.
The standout track on the album, however, belongs to the final track; Goodbye. The music is angry and moves, the lyrics are melancholy yet still retain an upbeat melody which carries the song “What’s she doing in the tub, she’s shooting up the junk again, all the water in the sink couldn’t wash her clean in my head and I’m leaving. Dealing with the needles leaning over your shoulder, its over.”
The most frustrating thing about the album is that many of the band’s demo’s available years ago are better than the versions of the songs that ended up on the album. Save Me
is the most obvious example of this. The song had its angsty guts torn from it and replaced with an odd out of place song about needing someone’s love. I would advise you look up the old demo of the song and then the album version to see just how hard these guys sold out.
In conclusion, there are some good tracks on the album, but the band sold themselves out for a chance at stardom. They just don’t have the brashness to pull it off though and it ends up feeling forced and fake. I believe these guys have a good album in them, but they need to be true to themselves.
Can’t Forget You
Porn Star Dancing